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February 27, 2010

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Assistants deny beating up vendor

FIVE assistants hired by a local urban management team have denied beating a fruit vendor so severely that he is now paralysed.

No verdict was announced after the one-day hearing at a local district court yesterday when trial opened on the case.

The five, including team leader Gu Jianzhong, all town natives, were hired as temporary workers.

On July 11, 2009, a group of 20 urban management assistants led by Gu, 48, went to Jiqian Road to clear out illegal vendors' stands.

They saw Peng Lin, who ran a fruit store, piling watermelons on the road, which was against urban management regulations. The assistants moved in to confiscate the watermelons and put them on a truck.

Peng, who had a watermelon knife in his hand, then tried to move the fruit back off the truck.

"He threatened us with the knife though we explained the regulation to him and showed our certificates," Gu told Minhang District People's Court.

However, the other assistants told the court that although Peng had a knife there was no threatening behavior.

Gu ordered the assistants to grab the knife from Peng and force him into their van and take him to the police station. Gu said Peng had kept resisting and tried to beat an assistant who was recording the scene with a camera.

Peng was put into the van after he bit a leg of an assistant, the court heard. As soon as Peng was in, Gu ordered the curtains in the van to be drawn for fear of "affecting their image" because some onlookers were taking photos with cell phones, the court was told.

The defendants gave different descriptions of what then happened in the van during the eight-minute ride to the police station.

Peng was forced to lie in the van with some assistants controlling him.

"No one beat Peng except that Zhu Guanxing hit his head on the left," Gu told the court.

"I just trampled his leg once," he added.

Zhu, 45, said all the seven assistants in the van had beaten the victim because he kept resisting. He had just punched Peng's shoulder.

Shen Fuliang, 41, told the court he saw Gu and Zhu both beat Peng with their hands but he himself didn't take any violent action.

The defendants said Peng got out of the van himself after they got to the police station. But the victim wasn't able to sit when being questioned by the police.

Peng was diagnosed as suffering from brain and neck injuries and is still in hospital where he is paralysed and barely conscious.

The case isn't the only one about violent law enforcement by urban management officers and assistants, which has aroused public concern recently.

A protest was carried out by vendors on Dongxin Road in Putuo District on July 4 last year because several vendors had been beaten by the district's urban management assistants a few days before.

On December 8 last year, urban management officers came into conflict with store owners in a small commodity street in Jiuting Town, Songjiang District when urging them to move items that blocked fire control passages.


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